Friday, October 11, 2013

Looking Back on the Journey

This week, I finished the revisions to the Orphans of Jadox, which has been quite an experience.  This draft has been an adventure, and I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it was that made it such an emotional adventure.  I think in a large part, it had to do with the fact that I’ve started to interact and meet with other writers.  Having a community is an amazing boost when I suddenly start to wonder if what I’m thinking or experiencing is normal.  I’ve loved getting to know all of you!

When I finally finished, I really just sat there, overwhelmed by the feeling of finishing.  It was very different from any other time that I’ve done it.  First off, I had butterflies in my stomach for days because of the excitement, trepidation and everything in between. Second off, I knew that it was the best I’d ever created.
My characters’ journey is over, at least for the time being.  But as they took their journey, I’ve taken one of my own, and I’ve spent the past few days looking at where I started. 

Writing has always been an important part of my life.  I wrote my first novel in high school.  (After a numerous amount of unfinished first chapters and half-novels).  At that point, I was convinced everything I’d written was gold.  I remember asking my dad to read something I’d written and getting offended when he offered suggestions on how to fix it.  Editing and revising were probably the furthest things from my mind.

But when I started college, I put it away.  I thought I had to grow up.  I went out and lived life to the fullest.  I studied in a foreign country for two years, learned a new language, made new friends, met a wonderful man and got married.  But that didn’t mean my life was perfect.  In fact, a few months after marriage, we ran into several difficulties that pulled me down.  I was depressed, stressed and having panic attacks at least once a week.  Goals that I’d always had – education, career, family – seemed almost impossible. 

It was at that time that I found my writing notebook.  And that inexplicable need to write was the only thing that kept me going.  I had to escape what I was experiencing, and writing was the portal. I could live vicariously through my characters’ lives and experience their triumphs with them.  For six months, I meticulously went through my novel.  After living so much more of life, I saw it through a different light.  I saw the errors, how flat my characters were.  I rewrote it, even changing it from 1st to 3rd person. 

Then, as if by chance, I met my first beta online.  I sent her my first chapter and she tore it apart and made me cry.  And that’s when the magic started to happen.  After a few weeks, I realized that I was a writer.  I had the chance to prove that what I was doing was worthwhile.  And the only way to do that is to accept criticism, build on it and learn where my weaknesses lie. 

Only after I realized what writing really was – hard work and dedication – did the burst of creativity happen.  I may take my time to put myself out there, but I’ve never regretted it.  Just like my characters, I needed to stumble and fail before I could rise to the challenge.  I needed something to fight for. 

Reading through my first draft of the Orphans of Jadox, I’m really struck by how much has changed in the past two years since I wrote it.  And I’m so grateful for those who’ve helped me in this journey.  For all of those who rooted for me, and even those who tried to put me down, I want to say thank you.  I couldn’t do this alone.